Image: Katie Edmunds

I tried a menstrual cup for a week, here’s what happened #UnifiedFem

Goodbye super plus sanitary pads, jumbo tampons and ultra towels with wings – make way for the menstrual cup.

Buying an assortment of different sanitary products to suit your flow is now unnecessary, here’s an environmentally-friendly, one-size, one-protection suits all alternative.

After recommendations from friends and seeing online influencers using menstrual cups, I decided to try it out for myself. I’ve always been concerned about the environmental implications of sanitary products – after all, the sea is for turtles, not tampons – so after nearly a decade of polluting the sea I thought it was time to make a change.

What is a menstrual cup?

They’ve earned themselves the reputation as one of those weird, gross things that hippies use but really they’re just small silicone cups that collect and catch your blood instead of absorbing it like tampons and pads do.

I know this raises plenty of questions – why would anyone in their right mind want to store their blood in a cup all day only to have to endure a messy, bloody removal?  But before you’re completely turned off the idea, I can assure you there are plenty of pros.

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Why buy a menstrual cup?

  1. They’re eco-friendly – menstrual cups can be washed and reused for up to 20 years. Most cost around £20, meaning it would cost you a grand total of a pound per year. Not really a sum to complain about, is it?
  2. They’re convenient – no need to remember to carry around enough tampons and pads to last the end of your cycle, you only need one of these!
  3. No fuss – you can leave a menstrual cup in for an ENTIRE day. Worrying about toxic shock syndrome will become a thing of the past when you pop one of these bad boys in. If you put it in first thing in the morning, you only need to take it out and clean it in the evening before reinserting ready for bedtime.  It will never overflow and if you’ve put it in correctly, you can’t leak either.  Sounds pretty revolutionary if you ask me…
  4. They’re good for your vagina – unlike tampons, menstrual cups won’t leave you feeling dry.  Ladies, you know what I mean by this.  Additionally, the mooncup I bought is latex-free, hypoallergenic and contains no dyes, BPA, bleaches, phthalates, plastics or toxins.

My experience:

The first day of my period was an interesting one.  I was actually excited to get my period so that I could try out my new menstrual cup (it’s the little things, clearly) which was a nice change to the normal “oh, shit” outburst.

I had already sterilised the cup before use by boiling it in a saucepan for 5 minutes as recommended.  When it was time to insert the cup, I ran it under some water to make sure it was lubricated.  After that, I was ready to pop the cup in.  There should be various methods on your instructions leaflet that come with the purchase, but I decided to use the technique where you fold the cup in half.

I was really nervous when putting it in which probably sounds a little silly but it’s larger than a tampon which made it super daunting. I was pleasantly surprised though, after a couple of attempts it went in really easy and I couldn’t even feel it.

It was so comfortable to the point where I was concerned that it had got lost or something. This is totally irrational, I know.  It’s impossible to lose a menstrual cup in your vagina but this just goes to show how comfy the ‘lil cup is.

So, that was it.  After about five minutes of getting to grips with the menstrual cup, I now didn’t have to worry about my period for the rest of the day.  It just seemed too good to be true. It didn’t feel normal that I wasn’t taking regular bathroom trips every 4-8 hours to change my tampon but I’m not complaining.

Throughout the day I was concerned that I might leak but I honestly didn’t.

When the evening came around, it was time to empty the cup. I had to kind of tense/push my vaginal muscles (kind of like when you’re doing a poo) so that the stem appeared and I could tug on it to pull it out.  Honestly, this was a bit uncomfortable but it was definitely something I could get used to.  When I took it out, I quickly realised that nothing about this is sexy – not that periods generally are but this wasn’t my most glamorous moment. I poured the blood down the toilet and unfortunately, the chances of not getting your fingers a little bloody are slim but I got over it pretty quickly.

You have to remember that blood is completely natural and isn’t something to be disgusted by.

After that, I gave the cup a good wash with some unscented soap and I was ready to do the whole thing all over again.

Putting the cup back in was super easy, I was in full menstrual cup mode and had started to think of myself as quite the eco-warrior on a mission. The cup didn’t leak over night and I had no discomfort whatsoever so it’s a massive thumbs up from me.

I was hoping to have more to say over the next few days of my period but they all generally went the exact same way – easy, comfortable and convenient. It was like I didn’t even have a period. Even on one of the days that I was more active, there were no issues.

Quite honestly, it’s been the easiest period of my entire life. I really, really recommend you try one out for yourself.

Rebecca Sheeres

Rebecca is Unified’s Features Editor and a third year Multimedia Journalism student. Her work has been featured on KentLive, Kent Online and Culture Trip. She also co-hosts CSRfm’s Sunday Best show and is an equal rights activist.

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